The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a warning to the major search engines requesting that they more clearly distinguish between the organic results and paid ads. This applies not only to traditional search engines, but also social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as mobile apps.
The FTC’s warning to search engines should be a wake-up call to the search marketing industry. The days of playing fast and loose with mixed paid and organic search results on search engine results pages (SERPs) appears to be coming to an end. In its place will be more stringent oversight of how search engines display paid search results and, as a result, more cumbersome and potentially onerous restrictions on what search marketing can and cannot do with their campaigns.
What are the potential implications for marketers of this new guidance? What do search marketers need to do now to begin adjusting for these changes?
It is unclear at this point the extent that each search engine will address this request, but it is expected that minor changes to the way paid ads are identified will ensue to avoid possible FTC action.
These changes, however, can impact the efforts of search engine marketers, as they will potentially need to make more drastic modifications to their search engine marketing efforts.
Here are some potential effects that the FTC’s warning will have on marketers:
Further Real-Estate Limitations
Clarifying the difference between paid and organic search listings can potentially limit the space available to both organic and paid listings. This means that either fewer results will be able to display “above the fold” without scrolling, or the character limits within each result will be reduced.
If the number of results above the fold is decreased, achieving an above-the-fold listing will be even more competitive. Businesses will be competing heavily for top placement and more of an investment will be needed to generate current levels of volume.
In the case of character limits being reduced within each result, businesses will need to update their online messaging to get their point across in less space. Paid ad titles and ad copy will likely have to be updated to fit within new limits and titles, and meta descriptions of organic mobile pages will need to be shortened to avoid being truncated when listed.
More Strategic Mobile Targeting
Paid search targeted to mobile devices is one of the fastest-growing digital marketing channels and is playing a bigger role in how consumers find products and services. The implications of the FTC warning on mobile paid search could have a big impact on how these ads are displayed. Mobile search real estate, because of the size of mobile browsers, is already very limited.
What marketers will need to pay close attention to is how they segment their mobile targeting by device type. For example, the difference in the amount of SERP real estate between tablets and smartphones is likely to increase. Targeting and bidding strategies will need to vary per device to be most efficient.
Changes to Voice-Activated Search Services
Another implication specific to mobile search is brought on by the request relating to voice-activated search results. The FTC’s warning extends to services such as Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S-Voice. The FTC has requested that when a voice search is executed, an audio disclosure should be made to identify paid advertising. This could potentially deter users from those paid ads, making the organic listings more valuable.
Marketers must keep a close eye on search engine results and take note of any changes that occur. When used correctly and responsibly, paid search marketing can provide a tremendous benefit to brands’ online marketing and customer acquisition strategies. But in light of the FTC’s letter, the days of deceptive paid search tactics are coming to an end. That will benefit both consumers and marketers in the long run.
An interesting little theory for the New Year from Forbes: Apple is being eaten away inside by Google.
The Google Worm
Call it “the worm strategy”—because Google is attacking Apple from the inside out.Over the past six months, Google has begun to systematically replace core, Apple-made iOS apps with Google-made iOS apps.
And this leads to a world where? Well there’s Android users, surrounded by Google search, and there are iPhone users, downloading Google apps—all of which make Google search a prominent feature. Interesting Yes?
However Google faces exactly the same problem that everyone else does: how do you monetize mobile? This is something that no one has managed to worked out as yet:
The key driver is that mobile CPMs are only 15 percent of desktop CPMs. As traffic migrates, seven ads on mobile bring the same revenue as one on the desktop, not good, because the lower CPMs coincide with lower click-through rates. With me so far?
The problem is traffic is flooding from desktop to mobile and no one has yet really worked out how to make good money from mobile traffic. And there’s no certainty at all, although a good bet would be that if there is a solution to be found, that it will be Google that finds it, in the same way they did with AdWords for Web 1.0. ( I knew that would come back to haunt me one day) did they find it? or was it nicked from Overture, that’s another story.
Anyways gaining great chunks of iOS traffic through apps is just great, but that traffic still has to be monetised, so get working on ideas my friends, there’s money to be made here.
There has been blogs written many times about the cost of SEO and about how the return on investment is one of the highest in the marketing industry, there are times when optimization is just not in the budget. Whether you’re a brand new business with little to no marketing capital, or perhaps an aging business that needs to completely rework your advertising and marketing campaigns. Don’t fret however if you can’t pour vast amounts of money into organic SEO, there are still a couple of tricks you can do which can at least help you in your local marketplace.
First off, if you have a business, then you’ll have a name for it. There are a few free avenues you can explore to begin promoting yourself to your local area and if done right, your name will spread. Facebook, while primarily a social location for friends and families also has their own business listings. Instead of creating a personal profile, you create a business page with which you can begin to share information with your customers and clients in an open format. Within Facebook as well, you can use paid advertisements which will display on profiles which are interested in your business. Pre-qualified traffic can go a long way to helping your bottom line. The ad placements within Facebook do have a cost however, but the page listing does not.
Also tieing in with the free angle, using a Twitter account can be a creative way to send out advertisements for flash sales or discounts to your subscribers. Frequently updating your sales or hosting a conversation in your stream is a free way to generate buzz about your business and your products.
If you find that the information you need or want to share with your customers is too long for Twitter, having a branded blog is a great step forward to get the word out. Use your blog to promote new products which need a description, or a place to layout the details of an upcoming contest or sale. A blog is a free, simple way to get stories out to your current and future customer base.
Continuing in the realm of free, be sure to also create your Google Places page. Creating a quality page with all of your relevant location and contact information can place you within the organic search listings should you be part of the search terms entered. The Places pages are displayed just as the Google Maps listings used to be, typically at the top of the organic listings with their identifiable red arrow markings.
Those are only a handful of the free local advertising tools you can use as a business owner. When you’ve generated the traffic and are starting to improve your bottom line that’s when it’s time to take the plunge and invest in a quality built website and start building your brand on a wider scale.
When Google launched their first salvo into the social war with Buzz, they made some really big mistakes. Allowing anyone who was on your contact list basically be able to browse your contacts was a pretty big breach of trust for any social network, and it nearly sunk all of Google’s aspirations in one swoop. But fast forward 18 months or so and we’re over a month into their latest social offering with Google+.
They’ve made some serious improvements to their social understanding by watching the explosive growth of Facebook and their flop with Buzz. Privacy controls are easy and intuitive to manipulate, friends are easy to arrange and messaging controls are plain and straight forward. It’s easy to say that Google+ may be a contender in the social arena with hitting 25 million accounts in a fraction of the time that Facebook had, but public understanding and acceptance need to be used to temper their growth. People are beginning to understand the nature of social web sites with Facebook having been the king for so long. Many, myself included, find they have as much as entire friend feeds blocked as all they do is play Farmville or Cafe World. Facebook boasts having high day to day activity and retention rates, but if the majority of those people are just there to play games the quality of the use is definitely in question.
But just like Google’s AdSense and paid advertising you see on results pages, those game players on Facebook are served ads. Social Media Marketing is a very real avenue to explore if your a small company on a tight budget. Google+ at present doesn’t have business options setup, but they’ve made clear that yes, they are coming. So get your practice in with Facebook, Twitter tweets and PPC/AdSense marketing because even with a “paltry” 25 million users, Google+ will be a qualified market for advertising.
All of the taglines you generate with Twitter, Facebook and soon with Google+, may have more strength than you might think. Nicholas Schiefer recently won a Canada Wide science fair and made interesting inroads in the realm of search. The 17 year old is being compared to Mark Zuckerberg for his idea and implementation of his search algorithm, and those are no small shoes to fill.
The algorithm as it’s written, searches short documents like tweets, Facebook statuses and news headlines for starters. That 140 character string of gold is crunched and parsed by his infant algorithm to deliver results. It may not seem much different from what Google, Bing or Yahoo offer, but where it does get different is when his search algorithm applies context to the results. The advantages of a semantic algorithm which could determine context in the results it retrieves would be a great improvement in the realm of social search. As an example, you’ve been out for dinner and had a poor experience, you could use that type of search engine to determine if others have had the same experience. It’s possible to do so with the existing search engines, but it takes a bit of work to sort through the results to find customer reviews if you don’t include it as part of your initial search. It’s an impressive start for a young man who may be a part of changing the way the world searches. Time will tell how interested the world is in semantic, contextual searching should Mr. Schiefer continue his project.
Facebook has become the most visited site above Google and all others online. It’s not uncommon to find a story about Facebook versus Google/Bing/Yahoo or about how they’ve reached 500 million plus members. Millions upon millions of people communicate, play and flit away hours on the site, and the site is reportedly worth billions.
But at the end of the day, is it really a financially savvy move to advertise on Facebook? In 2009 it was, as the cost for a click was only 27 cents, but for a click through rate of only just over half of 0.1%. And as time goes on you’d expect things to get better, but in 2010 the cost per click actually nearly doubled in cost to 49 cents, and the click through rate dropped. With so many member accounts, it’s hard to believe that the advertising model has such a bleak factual bottom line.
With the benefits of advertising on Facebook being parlayed as being targetted via friends within the site, the numbers display the honest truth. While ads may last longer, and be presented more relevant on your Facebook pages, you’re less likely to use them than if you were to find them else where online. Even banner ads on websites performed better on the bottom line. Oh well, at least there’s Mafia Wars and Farmville right?
We heard this statement the other night from President Obama in his state of the union speech, it made me smile, why? because we are exactly that.
Since our inception on a coffee table back in the UK this is exactly how we have seen ourselves.
Over the years we’ve done big things with major brands like Sony, Sanyo & Best Buy, we’ve worked with celebrities & governments to making a small back street vendor a major player online across North America beating the likes of Sears & Costco, A little company that do big things.
What do we do? Well, everything to do with online search & branding, we have a team buying domain names daily, in fact we see opportunities before most others do, an example was the presidents quote of A little company that do big things, we bought that domain within 5 minutes of him mentioning it, a great slogan, we have done the same with others, company’s spend millions marketing there new project with traditional media, TV ads & Newspapers without first securing the web domains they will need to secure the brand first, how stupid is that at $10 a throw? then they complain when someone beats them to the punch and they have to pay Big Bucks to a little company for there ignorance, it’s just business.
We also run and manage Google Adwords accounts for clients, that’s easy considering I was consulting when the program was being built by Google, but what we really excel at is SEO, yes we know everyone can do this, if this is true then why don’t the company’s or individuals selling the service show up for themselves for major terms on the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, it’s a no brainer, if they cannot list themselves, how do they list you?
Like Obama said, The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an Internet connection.
Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution, Innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.
Call a little company that do big things today on 204.942.4200 it could change your life.
Getting your company noticed online is not always an easy thing to achieve. If your Website does not appear near the top of the first page on a Google search, chances are it will not see very much traffic. So in what is becoming an increasingly cutthroat business, how does an organisation draw attention to itself online?
By employing a specialist search marketing company like fresh traffic whose goal is to help customers to find new business online, there are two distinct options for driving traffic to your Website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about making your Website friendlier to search engines, thereby achieving a higher ranking on the page. SEO focuses on optimizing elements such as keywords, navigation, images and videos, in order to obtain the best possible ranking on a search engine page.
The second option is Google’s AdWords, a paid for offering designed to maximise your online return on investment (ROI). AdWords ensures that when a Google search makes use of one of your keywords, your advert appears opposite the organic search results. Since it uses a pay-per-click system. AdWords can be more costly than SEO, but it is also more targeted and will not fall foul of changes in a search engine’s algorithms.
The down side to this is the fact that not only do the majority of users look predominantly at the left hand side of the page, (the organic SEO side) they also trust organic search results more, meaning they are more likely to click on these. Other problems include the rising cost of pay per click, along with the limited amount of copy space available – everything needs to be squeezed into a 70-character limit.
Businesses paying to improve their websites with search engine optimization (SEO) should be prepared for the cost, many companies today are paying a small amount of cash and expecting big results, but that as with most things “you get what you pay for”.
People investing in SEO should be wary of companies who charge very little as if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.
SEO to some can seem like smoke and mirrors, some companies we know now simply offer search engine submission, or Google adwords and camouflage it as SEO.
Doing it half way will leave you no better off than when you started down this path and don’t forget the thousands of dollars you could potentially spend in the effort, businesses should invest time and money in proper organic SEO and remember that the service is not a “one-time hit”.
Our company has experts who can help in respect of both SEO and AdWords. Call us today 204.942.4200
You can always add social media into the mix with a facebook or twitter account if needed.
According to the leaked Google document the biggest buyers of AdWords in June 2010 included AT&T Mobility, Amazon, eBay and BP.
BP was a newcomer to the list, spending $3.59 million on search ads in the wake of the gulf oil spill (compared to just $57,000 in the two months prior).
The Top Spenders List
The top spender in June, AT&T Mobility, spent $8.08 million on search ads to coincide with the release of the iPhone 4. According to Ad Age, AT&T’s the third-largest U.S. advertiser overall, so its Google spending is not a big surprise.
Other companies that made up the top 10 include:
Apollo Group – You know them as The University of Phoenix and they spent $6.67 million in June 2010
Expedia – $5.95 million
Amazon – $5.85 million
eBay – $4.25 million
Hotels.com – $3.30 million
JC Penney – $2.46 million
Living Social – $2.29 million
ADT Security – $2.19 million
The data obtained by Ad Age includes huge brands such as GM, Walt Disney, Eastman Kodak and BMW, which appear to have spent less than $500,000 in June. Tech rival Apple spent just under $1 million on search during the month, as did chip maker Intel.
Among Google’s biggest spenders are businesses that depend on search traffic, including those that resell AdWords or simply buy Google traffic to resell to their own advertisers, including Hungry Machine, which does business under the name Living Social, which spent $2.4 million in June, and Yellowpages.com, which spent $1.2 million.
One of the challenges facing any new industry is creating a demand for and an awareness of the industry in the mind of the consumer. Since many Website owners have only a general idea of what search engine optimization (SEO) is and how it works, I’ve come up with an analogy from another industry that makes it easier to understand.
Search Engine Marketers = Ad Agencies
Search engine marketers dealing with paid listings are very similar to ad agencies in offline media. They work with the message and the creative to get people to take action: to buy, subscribe or register. They have budgets and are able to monitor results and tweak campaigns to get the maximum return for their clients.
It’s pretty easy to see the parallels between SEMs and ad agencies, but a little harder to understand the role of search engine optimizers, as they relate to the “free” search listings.
Search Engine Optimizers = Public Relations Firms
A search engine optimizer is actually very similar to a public relations firm in the offline world. Public relations firms try to get their clients mentioned in news stories and featured in print and broadcast media, i.e., they obtain “free” publicity. An SEO consultant attempts to get their client’s site listed highly in the “editorial” or “free” listings of the search engines. As with offline media, the editorial content (or listings) often carries more credibility with consumers.
Just as a public relations firm carefully writes press releases and formats them in a way that is favorable to the news media, a search engine optimizer adjusts the code and wording in a site to present it in the way that the search engines prefer to read it. A good SEO (just like a good PR firm) will create content that is interesting and useful, making it much more likely to be ranked well (or be newsworthy).
PR firms often act as image consultants as well, working with the company and its executives to make sure they present the best possible impression when meeting with the press. They make sure their message is consistent and in keeping with their brand, to help firmly cement the company’s image in the mind of the customer. A professional SEO often does the same thing for a site, making design or usability recommendations to ensure that once people arrive they will easily be able to find what they need.
Not All Search Engine Optimizers Are the Same
There are different kinds of SEOs, just as there are different kinds of PR firms. Some PR firms merely churn out press releases on a regular schedule. They spend their time faxing and following up on items that may or may not be newsworthy. They make very little attempt to be creative or find truly newsworthy events within the company — they simply send a regular stream of minor happenings out via press releases. They may even try to sneak releases past screening personnel or exaggerate the truth in order to get a mention in the media. Ineffective PR firms waste your money; an unethical one can even hurt your company’s image.
The parallel in the SEO industry is those SEOs that use deceptive practices to place their clients’ sites in the engines. One such tactic would be the use of software to churn out keyword-stuffed pages instead of attempting to improve the site itself. Another tactic would be showing search engines different content than a human visitor would see. These are strategies that work in the short term. But just as a newspaper editor will eventually start throwing out all of the low-value press releases from a company that has proved they don’t provide good content, a search engine will eventually do the same to pages using deceptive techniques and which don’t provide any value to site visitors. Eventually, those SEOs will find that their clients’ sites are penalized or banned.
Neither public relations nor search engine optimization are forms of black magic; anyone can learn what needs to be done to get a company noticed. There are PR companies who see the media as something to be manipulated, just as there are SEO companies who see the search engines that way. However, you’ll find that it’s much more productive when an SEO actually works with the search engines, rather than against them.